While there is still much to be determined about any potential spring season, the Morgan golf team has a great chance to be one of the top teams in the Shoreline Conference. Last season, the Huskies turned in a final overall record of 8-13 on the season with a 4-6 mark in the Shoreline Conference. In the Division IV State Championship Head Coach Head Coach Eric Bergman’s squad earned 10th place overall.
Coach Bergman wants to remain optimistic about the prospects the Huskies competing the is spring, but he also wants to remain realistic of the tight timeline for any regular-season contests. While the spring postseason has already been cancelled, the CIAC has not called off the regular season provided that school returns to session as scheduled on Wednesday, May 20. If students and teachers are able to return to class, then athletic teams will still have to have 10 days of workouts and practice before any actual matches can take place. In other word,s the soonest any competition can be scheduled is Sunday, May 31.
“I think the CIAC is trying to get some sense of hope for the youngsters. If I had to say though, I think there’s probably too much to get through,” Bergman said. “If by chance we to get to do it. I think we would have been in the mix. Old Saybrook is probably the odds-on favorite for the league, and I feel bad for them.”
Still, out of all the spring sports, golf has one of the best formats to maintain some sort of social distance while competing. There’s no need for any physical contact between players, and courses have plenty of space. Athletes can bring all their own equipment with no need for any other athletes to come into contact with balls, clubs, or tees. Coach Bergman lives in close proximity to the Clinton Country Club, where Morgan plays all of its home matches, and he has seen signs of life on the links.
“I see some matches at Clinton Country Club a few times a week. I see them out there taking care of the grounds, so if things start to ramp up, they would be ready to go,” said Bergman. “It seems like such an overwhelming task to a get a week to 10-day season. I appreciate the optimism, but it’s hard to see how it happens.”
One player that Bergman was especially looking forward to see play was junior Jason Cohen. As a sophomore Cohen tied for 31st at states, and had plenty of matches as the lowman for the Huskies.
“We have a guy Jason Cohen who is thankfully only a junior this year,” said Bergman. He potentially could be an All-State player this season, but if that doesn’t end up happening, I think next year he should be a solid candidate for All-State as a senior.”
Morgan had several freshman on the team last year who Coach Bergman was excited to help continue to improve their games. Players like Drew Nye, Jonathan Blair, Cole Crowley, and Timothy DeMaio, were all slated to return.
“We had a nice group of sophomore boys who are coming back whose games had gotten much better. Many of them are on the football team, and when there was talk of golf possibly moving into the fall, we thought that we may have lost them. Now that it looks like there would be golf in the fall. They reinvested. That was important, especially someone like Drew Nye, who thought this would possibly be his last golf season.”
Coach Bergman was also excited about the prospects of several girls being added to the roster this spring. His daughter freshman Kristina Bergman was slated to join the team, and bring along a few more athletes to the mix.
“I would have had anywhere in between 12 and 16 players including girls. We also keep a JV team, as well. My daughter is a freshman this year, and she and her friends were going to be coming out this year. She hasn’t gotten into the competitive side much yet. This would have been the year to spark some of that interest.”
One of the players that Coach Bergman sympathizes with the most is senior Ethan Tessman. If the regular season is suspended this year, that would be it for his high school career.
“If Ethan doesn’t have a chance to take the sticks out this year, that would be too bad. He would have been our only senior for this year. He was one of our captains who was a great player last year. He could have been an all star this season, and he’s probably going to miss that opportunity,” said Bergman. “It’s the same for any other student-athlete across the country, or even around the world. I feel really bad for these guys, but there are bigger issues at stake too.”
Another wrinkle that gets added to the mix in restarting the golf season is the golf courses that are necessary to play. Unlike other sports where many of the playing fields are on school grounds, golf is dependent on public and private golf clubs to host matches. Coach Bergman thought that fact could potentially lead to further complications given the short timeline.
“I know some of the courses are open, but would they be open to take the liability of that. That’s something that happens at a higher level. I know some course are open because the governor has allowed that and there are instructions about proximity to playing partners,” Bergman said. “If the matches start would you have a marshal out there monitoring the kids? It’s a lot. This is all completely uncharted waters. I think being cautious is the way to go.”
Coach Bergman teaches in The Morgan School and is also a member of the Clinton Town Council. So, he has seen the impact of COVID-19 on several different aspects of the community. While Bergman hopes for the best or his student-athletes, he’s most concerned with everyone’s safety and well-being. If Morgan doesn’t see a golf season in 2020, Coach Bergman knows that a solid group is ready to hit the links in 2021.
“Next spring with Jason Cohen as a senior and some solid juniors, we can make a good run for the conference. That keeps me optimistic thinking where we couldd be in 2021. I think sport for young people is very important. There’s so much that can be learned in high school athletics. I look back at my experience and I want my own kids to get that,” said Bergman. “That being said, there are a lot of sick people out there. There are people not able to pay for their mortgages, rent, or health insurance. That’s taking top priority right now. It’s hard to get too off track on other endeavors. This is forcing us to look at the big picture.”
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